93.8% of the citizens of Catalonia understand Catalan, the official language along with Spanish and Aranese. To these nearly seven million people that understand Catalan, we can add those from other territories where it is used as the everyday language, particularly the Valencian Community (where it is called 'Valencià'), the Balearic Islands and part of Aragon, the Franja de Ponent (Western Strip). It is the only official language in Andorra and its use extends to the south of France and the city of Alghero, Sardinia. As a result, it is calculated that there are a total of nine million people that speak Catalan and 11 million that understand it. It is therefore situated ahead of 14 official languages of the European Union and it is the ninth most spoken language.

Catalan was established between the 8th and 10th Centuries as an evolution of Latin, as were Spanish, French, Italian and the other Romance languages. Catalan is the common language used at school and its use is standardising the media, financial world and cultural productions. Every year, 10,000 titles are edited in Catalan, which is the tenth most translated language in the world and taught in 166 universities. The Catalan language is very much alive on the Internet, so much so that CANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) authorised the .cat domain in 2006, which groups the Catalan culture and language community websites together. In just over two years, there were 30,000 domains registered. A survey carried out by the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (IDESCAT) in 2007 indicated that three out of four residents in Catalonia can speak and write Catalan.

The Spanish language started to have a certain role in the ruling circles of Catalonia as a result of the dynastic union with Castile, even though it did not have an important presence in everyday life until the Spanish-speaking immigration, which mainly took place in the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays, nearly all citizens understand (98.9%) and speak Spanish (96.4%).

The presence of the Provencal language and culture in the Catalan domain is explained by historic reasons when, in the fifteenth century, it became integrated thanks to a pact with Catalonia. In spite of its political ties with this region, its geographical isolation has allowed its Provencal nature and heritage to endure over the centuries up to the present day, which is actually legally recognised by the self-government of the valley.

Further information: Government of Catalonia

Last updated: 1 August 2017